As we work with our client associations on their 2018 plan details, I’m pulling out a little nugget of advice from Peter Drucker: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Association management is not for the timid, at least it shouldn’t be. Sure, our clients expect us to handle the business of running what is, essentially, their business. This involves being their headquarters, handling all finance, membership, meeting, digital communications, event production and marketing.

But they increasingly want us to provide management consultation and innovative marketing ideas that carry a value not typically covered in a retainer for administrative work. This is an entirely different level of service than an association management firm may have signed up for. That’s an added value that must be monetized as far more research is required, for starters.

What association boards seek now are ideas, strategies, something different from what they’ve done for years. Further, if board members are the leaders and visionaries of their industries, where are all the mold-breaking ideas to move their members, even their industry, forward? Surely, being executives in their own companies, they are trying new things all the time. That brain power should transfer to their volunteer work on a nonprofit board.

No one will dispute that the business climate is wildly different from even several years ago. What we can envision and how we communicate are the substantial changes. Association board of directors and their management firms must work far closer together on how to leverage all this change in a new partnership. More is being demanded from both.

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